Gift Ideas For An Aspiring Magician?

Any good gift ideas for a teenager that’s into magic?

I’m asking for a friend and she doesn’t want to give her son a “cheesy magic kit.”


Books with pictures and demonstrations. Cruise Amazon.Com. Good luck!

locate the SDMB profile of the user **ianzin **- he is a professional magician. Ask him.

The number one thing needed by anyone serious about doing magic is information. It’s nice to have gimmicky props, but what a kid really need to know is how to work the fundamentals – sleight of hand with coins, cards and other household objects. The kid may already have access to some of this, but back when I was doing tricks, I could never get enough. The mother can probably find out what books the kid already has.

As far as props go, these aren’t useless. But rigged devices that pull off the trick for you are less useful than ones that are versatile and expand the tricks you can work into your repertoire – silks, foam balls, stage-size playing card decks, multiple practice decks of playing cards with different-colored backs, large opaque cotton handkerchiefs, fanning powder, ect. If you find a nice book on the subject, you can look to it for information on the kind of props the kid would need to have.

Also, if the kid doesn’t have one already, consider the value of having a mirror big enough to practice in front of – either floor-length or one that sits on a table. It helps your technique if you can check out what your audience can see.

How about Season 1 of Arrested Development?
There not tricks Michael, they’re illusions.

How about a book about Houdini, or other famous magicians?

I recommend the following books for a beginning teen magician:

  • “101 Amazing Card Tricks” by Bob Longe (ISBN 0-8069-0342-2)
  • “Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic” (ISBN 0-89471-623-9)
  • “The Royal Road to Card Magic” by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue

The first two you could find on The last one you could find at any reputable magic shop.

I’m going to plug Abbotts Magic in Colon, Michigan. They have a great catalog that I enjoy looking at even thought I’m not a magician. It’s a magician’s Wish Book.

I was actually going to recommend she make her own magic kit with stuff like this. I’d also throw in the half-ball, as practicing making it look like a full one is great for learning sleight-of-hand tricks.

A magic DVD may be more instructional and useful…I don’t really go into those, but my friend who was an amatuer magician used them (in addition to books)

Or…one of the books mentioned above plus about 10 decks of Bicycle decks?

I’ll go ahead and second Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic. It’s a great resource that lays down some fundamentals and gradually builds on them. Several decks of cards is good too. Make sure they’re all the same brand, and that you get some red and some blue, too. Also, maybe a roll of shiny new quarters to practice with? Or maybe just a handful of quarters, and a few of the new $1 gold coins.

A subscription to a magic magazine.

Forty years ago I could have told you the names of some of the leading ones (Abracadabra, I remember, and The Gem, I think). Certainly back then this is where the people who were serious about their magic got their information, news, and lots of their ideas for effects (back then, at least, the cognoscenti talked about “effects,” not “tricks”). If he is seriously into it he should know what the top magazines are today. Maybe it is all internet based now, but even so the best stuff may well be subscription only.

I agree that ianzin’s advice would be well worth listening to - more so than mine. Hope he’ll come in.

But meanwhile, I teach teenagers magic at an introductory level. I agree with suggestion of “Royal Road to Card Magic:” and a few Bicycle decks - if it’s card magic he wants. At least one red and one blue deck. Not just any cards - make sure they’re Bicycles. Try a magic shop for them. There are also excellent magic DVDs - but again it depends what sort of magic. As mentioned above, the basics in an area, such as card skills, will keep him occupied for years, if not a life time. Expensive devices that do the trick for him are one-off items and far less value for money. They also offer less scope to develop his own style.

My experience with teenage boys interested in magic is that cards are the way to go.

How serious is he about magic? If he is really getting into it, then the Tarbell course will be tremendous for him.

Give him a big box filled with live rabbits or doves.

When I was a kid I was into this kind of stuff, and a book on magic plus a few canned tricks goes a long way.

A really classy give you can get him is a Svengali deck. I loved mine as a kid.

This is the one I had, it’s awesome.

I think it’s a hobby for him but he has put on a live show before and done a school talen show as well.

I agree that these decks can be great, but now that their special characteristics are widely publicized, just as you have shown with the link, they are far less useful. They are too well known. Sad, isn’t it? That is why I always use a standard deck (always bicycles) and teach the sort of thing in “Royal Road” so that keen students can go on from there - a few basic skills, well practiced, can be used in a wide range of performances and encourage the student to create their own performing persona.

(Disclaimer: although I perform magic, I do so in other contexts - teaching gifted math students or promoting my books - not as a proper magician. So advice from real magicians is more valid.)

If your friend’s son has actually performed, then he is to be congratulated, and I would consider it as a serious ‘hobby’. The present depends on the amount your friend is wanting to spend, but I would also get some idea of the tools the boy wants to use. By that I mean, does he like cards? Coins? Cups and Balls? Large stage props? Mentalism (mind reading, mind control)? I would then buy books and DVDs accordingly, with the advice of a good magic store which does not just try to sell all the one-off tricks from the front counter.

Let us know what she decides and how he reacts.

I’d second the Tarbell Course, but only if the teen is pretty serious about learning and performing magic. The Tarbell Course is considered the Bible of all magic books because it covers everything that a working professional could do. There are eight volumes in all in the Tarbell Course, so if your teen is very serious, start him out with Volume 1.

I also would like to second buying from Abbott’s Magic in Colon, MI. They have an excellent web site you can order from ( ) and their sales people are extremely knowledgeable.

Plus a top hat and cape.